Democrats for Equality,
This is my first club communication to everyone since it was announced that I will be succeeding Will as our Club President in March. More on that in a bit, but first…
This Saturday, the San Diego LGBT Community Center will be cutting the ribbon on their new South Bay Youth Center in Chula Vista, which will offer drop-in and recreational services for LGBTQ and non-binary youth and their families and allies.
Programming at the new South Bay Youth Center will be similar to that offered at the Hillcrest Youth Center, and the expansion into the South Bay is certainly to be celebrated.
The ribbon cutting event will be held at 1180 3rd Avenue in Chula Vista from 1:00pm to 3:00pm. If you’d like to attend, please RSVP here.
Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas, Chula Vista Councilmember Steve Padilla, Southwestern College Trustee Nora Vargas, and the Center’s CEO Cara Dessert will offer remarks for this momentous occasion.
Club President (and Party Chair) Will Rodriguez-Kennedy was interviewed this week on KUSI about his vision for moving the party forward into the 2020 elections. Check out the full interview here.
Speaking of Will, as has been previously mentioned, our next club meeting will be his last full meeting as our Club President. He announced his resignation as Club President effective March 21st.
For background, in accordance with our club’s bylaws, the Vice President of Resource Development (me) succeeds the President in the event of a vacancy.
Now, I’m going to take a minute to brag a little bit about my predecessor, and my best friend.
I met Will about 11 years ago. He had recently just triumphed over homelessness after being discharged by Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He served our country honorably — in a time of war — in the United States Marine Corps, but because he was gay our country told him he wasn’t good enough.
Some time after that, I encouraged him to apply for a vacancy on the San Diego County Veterans Advisory Council as a way to help tell his story and provide some perspective on what it’s like being a gay veteran. He did apply, was appointed by the Board of Supervisors, and served there for a number of years.
At 25, he was elected Co-Chair of San Diego LGBT Pride a multi-million dollar organization that runs the Pride festival — our city’s largest annual civic event. That is an impressive feat.
Will crisscrossed the state, stepped foot in places where “Democrat” is a 4-letter word, built relationships in nearly every single county in California, and encouraged young democrats to step-up and run for office. Last year, he was elected President of the California Young Democrats.
Over the last 11 years, I have seen Will develop into the leader he is today. I am his Vice President and I can tell you that Will is fierce. Courageous. Passionate. The honest-to-God personification of what it means to be bold and brave.
Will, of course, is moving on to bigger and better things! He is among the youngest club presidents we have ever had, and now is the youngest Chair in the history of our San Diego County Democratic Party.
Interestingly enough, at 31-years-old, Will is the youngest Chair of a county Democratic Party out of the Top 10 most populated counties in the United States.
That is a significant achievement.
I have seen Will stand strong against the headwinds of closed doors… “NO’s”… the “I’m sorry, buts”… criticisms… unnecessary attacks… vitriol… and straight-up hate.
And yet, he marches forward.
That’s the kind of courage we should all aspire to. Will is who I want to be when I grow up.
In a county long-defined because of our ties to the border and the military, it’s also significant that Will happens to be a young, gay, Latino, and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran — and that is a narrative that our club, our members, and our party should be highlighting. Proudly. Especially in the face of this Trump era.
We’ve long said at our club meetings that, ” our members make history.” Will is making history. Every day.
His leadership is leaving behind some significant milestones and achievements for our club. Speaking just in terms of voter registration, voter outreach, fundraising, candidates elected, etc.
It will be a fun challenge to live up to, but I am absolutely up to the task.
I would like to thank everyone for their heartfelt congratulations and well-wishes through this club leadership transition. Hopefully, you will allow me the opportunity to call on you or lean-in for advice during the best of times, and the not-so-fun times.
Our club is like family. We have an amazing history, and it’s a history that we can learn from. It’s a history we can continue to build from, while also expanding on our club’s mission: to unify and organize all those interested in supporting and furthering progressive democratic values.
It will be an honor to step-up to lead our club forward.
One of the top priorities we should maybe consider is smashing that glass ceiling in East County. We are proud to have LGBTQ elected officials in other areas throughout our county — Steve Padilla in Chula Vista, Cori Schumacher in Carlsbad, and Joe Mosca in Encinitas. Whether it’s for city council, or mayor, or school board, or a college board, or a health board, or any other special district, there is no reason we can’t add to that roster of trailblazers in East County.
We can expand upon that later, but that’s just something I want to throw out to all of our club members now to think about.
First up, let’s get through our next club meeting!
Our February meeting will be next Thursday (Feb 21) at 7:00pm at the Joyce Beers Community Center in Hillcrest. Address is 3900 Vermont Street.
Other than officer elections, we will be discussing and voting on a couple bylaw proposals to diversify the club’s incoming executive board. Among the changes to be discussed, include:
- Eliminating gender-specific language throughout the bylaws,
- Re-naming and re-organizing the Treasurer position to Controller,
- Creating the officer position of Sergeant-at-Arms, and
- Elevating the club’s Associate Members to the county party into board-level Regional Director positions.
If the bylaw changes pass at our next meeting, we will also move ahead and have an election for Sergeant-at-Arms.
Finally, Happy Valentine’s Day! Make love, not war — and see you next week!
Vice President for Resource Development
San Diego Democrats for Equality